Originally created 07/31/98

Third Eye not blind to reality



Since blazing onto the national scene last summer, the members of Third Eye Blind are starting to see signs that they've made it in the rock music world -- beyond the obvious record sales and packed concerts.

First, Billy Idol called, wanting Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins to work on his next record. Next, Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan inquired about his services.

"We've been getting strange calls lately, but it's cool, especially from people you look up to and admire," Mr. Jenkins said in a recent telephone interview from Richmond, Va., a stop for the band on its summer-long Bonfire Tour.

The tour, which also includes opening acts Eve 6 and Our Lady Peace, stops Saturday at Fort Gordon's Barton Field.

In the past two years, Third Eye Blind, rounded out by guitarist Kevin Cadogan, Arion Salazar on bass and drummer Brad Hargreaves, has been on a rocket ride to success.

Sales of the group's 1997self-titled debut album are approaching triple-platinum status, Mr. Jenkins said. The disc Third Eye Blind has spawned a handful of hits: Semi-Charmed Life, Graduate, How's It Going to Be, Losing a Whole Year and Jumper.

"I think the album takes you to a place you might be wary of entering, but are curious about," said Mr. Salazar. "I feel that in the attitude and the playing. We are not just biding our time on this record."

They've also put some thought and attitude into their stage show. It is broken up into three sections, Mr. Jenkins said.

The first portion is supposed to be set in a closed-down club, the kind of place where underground raves would be held and Third Eye Blind used to play, complete with bonfire props.

"This urban fire . . . it echoes the places we come from," the singer explained.

Part two resembles a coffeehouse setting in which the band performs acoustic numbers on a smaller stage.

The last section goes back to the nightclub atmosphere, but this time about 40 audience members will be selected by the band's crew to hang out on stage, making it seem more like an intimate club.

Who gets chosen?

"They pick out people with big feet," joked Mr. Jenkins.

Expect the band to perform a high-energy show.

"We don't just stand there and do that indie band posing," said Mr. Jenkins. "Playing live music is very important to us. We make it intense. As a group, we've always been inspired by bands that performed, like the Clash and the Who . . . bands that blew audiences away and gave more energy than they took," said Mr. Jenkins. "By the time the show's over, we're done."

Lately audiences have been giving back, throwing things on stage at precise moments during the show, like when a hail of red panties were hurled at the band recently as Mr. Jenkins sang the lines from Semi-Charmed Life: You're the priestess, I must confess/Those little red panties pass the test.

"It's like The Rocky Horror Picture Show," said Mr. Jenkins.